Regional towns look to community batteries as renewable energy solution

Small regional neighborhoods are working to protect their own energy futures in the middle of electrical energy rate increases and extensive worries of blackouts.

A brand-new report from the Australian Energy Market Operator programs electricity prices rose to their highest levels on record in the 3 months to June 30, leading to increasing energy costs throughout the east coast.

Communities like Ballan, 80 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, are driving their own renewable energy tasks as they look for dependability, lower expenses, and minimized ecological effect.

The volunteer-run Moorabool Environment Group is dealing with homeowners on the initial steps of a job to bring a community battery to the town of nearly 3,400 individuals.

Rose De la cruz has photovoltaic panels on her house in Ballan and would like to link to a community battery.(Supplied: Rose De la cruz)

Resident and group member Rose De la cruz stated Ballan was a “good candidate” for the technology.

“We do suffer from power outages quite a lot here and we have a growing lot of residential houses with solar on their roofs,” she stated.

“At the moment everybody is talking about the cost of electricity, so people are interested in anything that will bring down the cost.”

The fundamental idea was for families and organisations with roof solar to feed into a shared battery and extract electrical energy when required.

Indigo Power director Ben McGowan stands next to large square, a community battery.
Ben McGowan checks a mid-sized battery at Yackandandah.(ABC News: Emilia Terzon)

Increasing take-up 

Community batteries are ending up being a progressively popular alternative for regional neighborhoods.

The first community battery in Yackandandah, a little traveler town in north-east Victoria, was released in July 2021 after 2 years of preparation and fundraising.

The 274-kilowatt-hour battery that provides electrical energy to 40 houses from photovoltaic panels on the roofing system of an old sawmill becomes part of a larger objective to have the whole town powered by renewable energy.

It likewise serves as a backup power supply.

Residents in the western Victorian town of Pomonal, on the edge of the power grid, are likewise searching for services to get rid of blackout issues.

Pomonal Power People member Dee-Ann Kelly stated more individuals had actually ended up being thinking about the concept of a community battery.

A group of people sit on chairs in a community hall.
Grampians Community Power Hub hosted a community conference at Pomonal.(Supplied)

“I am interested in the idea that not everyone needs to have solar,” she stated.

“Down the track I am willing to get solar, but for now I want to be able to utilise where we have got solar and where we may have solar in the future.”

She stated the task was likewise about supporting individuals who did not have the capability to put photovoltaic panels on their homes.

“We have talked about not leaving people behind,” she stated.

The town becomes part of a community battery expediency research study and is awaiting a report prior to picking the next actions.

Ms Kelly stated sustaining interest and driving the task might be an obstacle, offered it might take several years and was not an “overnight solution”.

A Tesla battery standing on a streetside kerb.
A community battery in Meadow Springs, Western Australia, is accessed by 52 houses.(Supplied: Western Power)

But she stated she was positive the community’s desire for power dependability throughout catastrophes, such as bushfires, and broad concentrate on sustainability would drive ongoing assistance.

“We live in the beautiful Grampians and have nature all around us. This is what drives people to want to have a future and be involved in making really important decisions,” she stated.

Clean energy future 

Australia Institute energy consultant Dan Cass stated Australia had actually been over-reliant on “risky and expensive” coal and “increasingly expensive” gas.

Mr Cass stated the community battery design would become part of the relocation to construct tidy energy resources rapidly to prevent another energy crisis.

Aerial shot of a community battery in parkland near a suburb
A community battery in the Perth suburban area of Port Kennedy.(Supplied: Western Power)

He stated the Australian Energy Market Operator modelling revealed a requirement to construct countless gigawatts worth of battery storage over the next numerous years.

“We need a lot more batteries on the grid and we need them urgently,” he stated.

“The question is who owns the batteries and what is the scale at which they are built?”

Mr Cass stated it was most likely big batteries, mid-scale community batteries, and little home batteries would become part of the solution.

“I think we will find eventually every freestanding roof in the country will be able to have solar panels and in some cases that will be backed up by batteries,” he stated.

“It will give enormous power and control back to energy consumers and communities as well as being more resilient and zero emissions.

“Australia remains in an excellent position … it is simply a matter of preparing this out well and this will be the last energy crisis Australia will ever require to face.”

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